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Geogenic organic contaminants in the low-rank coal-bearing Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer of East Texas, USA

April 13, 2017

The organic composition of groundwater along the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in East Texas (USA), sampled from rural wells in May and September 2015, was examined as part of a larger study of the potential health and environmental effects of organic compounds derived from low-rank coals. The quality of water from the low-rank coal-bearing Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is a potential environmental concern and no detailed studies of the organic compounds in this aquifer have been published. Organic compounds identified in the water samples included: aliphatics and their fatty acid derivatives, phenols, biphenyls, N-, O-, and S-containing heterocyclic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aromatic amines, and phthalates. Many of the identified organic compounds (aliphatics, phenols, heterocyclic compounds, PAHs) are geogenic and originated from groundwater leaching of young and unmetamorphosed low-rank coals. Estimated concentrations of individual compounds ranged from about 3.9 to 0.01 μg/L. In many rural areas in East Texas, coal strata provide aquifers for drinking water wells. Organic compounds observed in groundwater are likely to be present in drinking water supplied from wells that penetrate the coal. Some of the organic compounds identified in the water samples are potentially toxic to humans, but at the estimated levels in these samples, the compounds are unlikely to cause acute health problems. The human health effects of low-level chronic exposure to coal-derived organic compounds in drinking water in East Texas are currently unknown, and continuing studies will evaluate possible toxicity.

Publication Year 2017
Title Geogenic organic contaminants in the low-rank coal-bearing Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer of East Texas, USA
DOI 10.1007/s10040-016-1508-6
Authors Jayeeta Chakraborty, Matthew S. Varonka, William H. Orem, Robert B. Finkelman, William Manton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrogeology Journal
Index ID 70186888
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Energy Resources Science Center